Should You Always Take the Promotion?

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When we talk about happiness at work, we usually focus on ways to boost your satisfaction and land a position that offers a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

One tidbit that rarely makes headlines is that many employees are actually pretty content with their work. In fact, a CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey found that 85 percent of American workers are happy with their jobs.

With numbers like those, it stands to reason that most workers aren’t necessarily itching for a new position — but if you’re doing stellar work, a well-deserved promotion may be headed your way.

While recognition from higher-ups always feels good, moving up the food chain may not be something that interests you. And that’s okay.

Is That Promotion Right for You?

If your boss offers you a promotion, don’t accept it automatically. Instead, take some time to mull it over. Look out for these red flags that signal this step may not be in your best interest:

1. The New Role Won’t Advance Your Career

Take some time to think about where you’d like your job to take you over the long haul. Is this promotion a step in that direction? If it takes you on a detour or represents a lateral move, step back and look at the big picture. Some promotions can change your career trajectory, and that may not be a good thing.

“If [the job] is in a department or a role you didn’t envision yourself being in, think over whether it could be a good step up the career ladder or whether you’d prefer to move in another direction,” advises career expert Alison Doyle.

Another detail worth considering: If the promotion would put you in a managerial position, know that part of your job would involve overseeing junior workers. Not everyone enjoys that kind of work. In fact, research from leadership consulting firm DDI  found that 18 percent of people in leadership roles outright regret taking the gig, and 41 percent question whether taking the promotion was a mistake.

2. The Position Will Take a Toll on Your Personal Life

We’re all striving to achieve work/life balance, or at least come close. When considering a promotion, get real about the new workload. Is it likely to eat into your life outside of work?

“You may have a lot of things going on in your personal life, and if this promotion is going to take more of your time and energy, you might not be able to juggle it all successfully,” Doyle says.

Close to two-thirds of American workers say their employers expect them to work over the weekend, according to a 2017 Enterprise Rent-A-Car survey, while 61 percent say they struggle to fully disconnect on their days off. Ask yourself how much work you’re willing to put in outside of the office before agreeing to the promotion.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Magazine:

3. The Money Isn’t Worth It

Considering how much this promotion would increase your workload, does the corresponding pay make sense? Does it fit into your overall plan for growing your wealth ?

“If the salary bump that comes along with the promotion doesn’t seem worth it, or if there isn’t an increase at all, you might prefer to stay in a job and with a team you’re comfortable with,” Doyle says.

That said, don’t be so quick to walk away if money is the only thing giving you pause. Everything’s open to negotiation. Come to the discussion ready to talk about concrete ways you plan on moving the needle on the company’s revenue goals, along with a number that would make the promotion worth your while.

How to Decline a Promotion Without Burning Bridges

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons, and you’ve ultimately decided this promotion isn’t for you. Now for the tough part: breaking the news to your boss.

Instead of delivering a hard no, Doyle suggests making it a two-way conversation.

“Start by saying thank you,” she says. “Then have a conversation about the new role and what would be expected of you in the position. Ask if it would make sense for you to stay in your current job for at least a while longer, for example. That way, you’re not just saying no. You’re discussing what the best option would be, with your manager’s input.”

In other words, make it a collaborative experience that shows your manager you respect their point of view. And remember: This promotion may not feel right today, but things could change later down the road. Leave the possibility open so that the offer may still be there when you’re ready.

“If you’re sure the promotion isn’t something you’d ever want, consider other ways you can grow your career if you’d like to,” Doyle adds. “Look at lateral moves to different departments within your company, for example, and explore opportunities outside the company if you get to the point where you’d like to move on.”

Ultimately, the key takeaway is that there’s more than one way to grow your career and improve your financial success. Don’t feel like you have to take the promotion if it’s not right for you.

Marianne Hayes is a longtime freelance writer and content marketing specialist.

By Marianne Hayes